Het KLM Open is een golftoernooi dat deel uitmaakt van het meest professionele golfcircuit van Europa, de Europese tour. Het toernooi vond dit jaar voor de 96e keer plaats in Nederland. In samenwerking met TIG Sports heeft IBM een innovatieve mobiele app ontwikkeld om de bezoekers een nieuwe, betere kijkerservaring te bieden tijdens KLM Open 2015. De IBM Flight Tracker for KLM Open app bood bezoekers van het toernooi direct toegang tot een volledig interactieve kaart van de Kennemer golfbaan, inclusief interessante locaties, spelersinformatie en een ranglijst met scores. Ze konden ze op ieder moment zien waar de flights en de spelers zich exact op de baan bevonden. Door in te zoomen op een hole kregen ze een gedetailleerd overzicht van de aanwezige spelers, bijvoorbeeld over hun actuele positie in de wedstrijd en hun klassement. Ook was het mogelijk om direct individuele informatie over de spelers op te vragen en een lijst van favorieten op te stellen. Dit alles stelden bezoekers in staat om te bepalen wat de beste locatie was om het toernooi te ervaren. Dit kon in de buurt van een speler zijn of gewoon op het terras, of zelfs thuis. Met de juiste informatie op het juiste moment konden bezoekers dus het beste uit het toernooi halen.
IBM has many nicknames. For the Dutch among us, I kinda liked the “Incompatible B Merk” in the times the company tried to push OS/2 operating systems for the non-compatible PS/2. ‘I’ve Been Moved” is another name and of course, “Itshi Bitshi Machines”.
Recently I thought of “I Bought More”, as a reflection of IBM’s acquiring activities. This time it has bought StrongLoop.
Hmm….., never heard of it? Let me try to explain.
One step back, looking at the (IT) world at large, we are now in an API-economy. API stands for Application Programming Interface and is, in general, a way that software programs can communicate with each other. The fun thing about those API’s is that one program doesn’t have to know the first thing about the program it wants to talk to. Doesn’t have to know the internals, the Operating System, the release, the hardware it runs on, where it resides. Nothing. Just some rules on how to invoke it.
Google was one of the first to publish API’s. I believe that back in 2002 it released the API’s for geo-positioning and the maps. From that day on, one could just send an URL (the funny text on the top line of your browser) including the street name, city, etc. and Google gave back the geo-position or the other way around; you entering the geo-location and Google giving back the street, city, postal code, etc.
That’s the sole reason we now can easily use mapping and navigation on our mobile devices.
And although some among us were wondering what the business model was, it is now clear that Google did a clever thing.
Today, many, many companies are opening up their – internal – applications and data to the world to be consumed. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes one has to pay for those services. Sometimes companies are reluctant to do so or don’t see the business benefit, for others it is the only way to survive. Banks in the Netherlands are obliged to give access to some data by means of API’s.
Many reasons for IBM to enter the space of API’s.
Although the concept of those API’s are relatively simple, to develop, maintain and publish them can be awkward. Opening up to the outside world needs to be done with prudence. Security is of course very important but one also wants to control, for example, network traffic not blocking business services. The number of API’s a company wants to publish can easily go up to many hundreds. Those API’s have to be in sync, secure and manageable.
IBM has a product called API Management that can be deployed onto a IBM DataPower Security Gateway. You can log into the APIM tool as an internal creator of an API, as an internal monitoring function, or as an external developer wanting to know how and against what terms I can use the API’s.
With StrongLoop IBM enlarged it’s portfolio of API capabilities. StrongLoop is a company that developed an open-source API framework with built-in mobile service. Think about all the stuff you need if you want to send out push notifications or geo-location. The term ‘framework’ refers to the fact that a programmer doesn’t need to do all the coding him/herself. They can call upon already developed functions in order to quickly and consistently develop business functionality. Apart from that framework (called LoopBack) there are other functionalities like a tool to help you compose API’s, to build and deploy them. If needs be (and the API is very popular) there are tools to scale the API’s and to secure them. Last but not least StrongLoop offers a tool to monitor the API’s.
It’s an interesting product in an interesting part of IT, have a look at it here.
Where traditional boundaries end, IBM’s Extreme Blue internship comes to life. Though I applied for Extreme Blue because of its focus to apply innovative technologies, I could never expect the way this internship pushes technology to edge of what is possible. In the first day of our project we immediately met our client and the challenge, which was not to look into the future, but actually the future’s future. A lot of brainstorming, researching, applying new connections between concepts and 90 idea´s later, I thought this would be the point where there would finally be boundaries in what we could achieve. But, it was there that we could actually go beyond what was done before.
After we selected the final idea we worked the rest of the summer and I noticed that a lot of people got excited about the direction we were heading towards. Seeing everyone so excited when we pitched our solution during the IBM Extreme Blue Expo, got me motivated to strive for the highest possible. My ambition? Making the 8 o´clock news with our solution. Not only do I want our solution to mark the future of our client, but I also want it to make them to be the front-runner in Europe and be the pioneer of a bigger movement.
As a Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management student at Delft University of Technology, I feel lucky and inspired that I am part of IBM´s Extreme Blue internship this summer and I am ready to take on the challenge.
IBM Extreme Blue intern